Wiser’s Red Letter, 150th Anniversary (45% alc./vol.)
Complex, ever-changing tertiary flavours of dry grain, tobacco, Christmas spices, wood smoke, new tires, sour German rye bread, black fruits, cedar and fresh-sawn oak, toffee, vanilla, hot pepper, and bitter grapefruit zest. Rich & Oaky. ★★★★★This super-premium Canadian rye whisky takes your palate on a wild joy ride through grain fields, gentlemen's clubs, and Christmas puddings by the fire. Based on an original best-selling recipe, Wiser's Red Letter was re-created in 2007 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of John Philip Wiser's distillery in Prescott, Ontario. To mark the event Wiser's transported the best barrels of mature rye whisky from their warehouses in Pike Creek, Ontario, to Walkerville for blending. The resulting blend was then aged for a further 150 days in new white oak casks, resulting in a scrumptious rich rye whisky that would make old J.P. proud.J.P. Wiser was an American of German descent who came to Prescott, Ontario from Ogdensburg, New York in 1857 to run Charles Payne's distillery. The energetic Wiser learned quickly and was a great innovator. He also had the wisdom to wait just five years before moving to buy out Payne and thus become the sole proprietor of his own business venture. Wiser's distillery brought prosperity to Prescott, but in 1932, 21 years after his death, Wiser’s heirs sold the distillery. The new owner was Corby's who decided to move the maturing stock and distilling operations 180 Km west to their own warehouses and distillery in Corbyville, Ontario. In 1991, when Corby's distillery was consolidated with Hiram Walker's plant, operations moved yet again, this time to Walkerville, Ontario, just across the river from Detroit.Nose: Creamy, sweet and loaded with Christmas spices—cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. Quite complex with notes of sour German rye bread, dried grain, ripe black fruits, cigar smoke, new tires, cedar shavings and sawn oak on a fresh vanilla pod base. Changes and develops over time, so give it time.Palate: Creamy mouthfeel with sweet fruits and vanilla. Quickly develops some nice hot pepper, getting hotter and hotter until a cleansing citric zest arrives. Then it's new bike tires and dried grain, earthy rye spices—hot and zingy, hints of butterscotch and dried dark fruits before more grapefruit zest gets your mouth ready for the next complex wave of integrated flavours. These include cedar, cigar box, a hint of sandalwood, fudge, more Christmas spices and more pepper. And it’s loaded of earthy rye spices. Nice weight with sweet hints of corn whisky. Very, very tasty.Finish: Long and warm. Spicy, with a touch of vanilla. Hot and peppery at first, then fading into a citric zest leaving a clean palate ready for another sip.Empty glass: Rubber, vaguely fruity, caramel, vanilla, dry grain, tobacco, cigar box, cedar, vague rye sourness, mild caramel, ashes, vanilla and pipe tobacco. Now aren't you glad I didn't wash my glass?Very highly recommended. But at $150, is it worth the price? Well I certainly think so. After my first few sips led to a surprisingly empty bottle, I went back for a second. It's a limited edition of 6,000, and before they're gone I'll certainly pick up a couple more.★★★★★Wiser's Red Letter 2013 Release is reviewed here.Wiser's 18 year old reviewed here.Wiser's Legacy introduced here.A new Wiser's Legacy whisky review posted here April 30, 2011 to mark the 100th anniversary of the death of J. P. Wiser.Wiser's Small Batch reviewed here.